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France-China

France seeks win-win partnership with China during Premier visit

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left.) and the French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius, at the Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airport, March 25 2014.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left.) and the French Foreign Affairs minister Laurent Fabius, at the Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airport, March 25 2014. REUTERS/Robert Pratta

As China's President arrives in Paris for the second day of a high-profile visit, French authorities will push for a rebalancing of exchanges between the two countries. France invested 16 billion euros in Beijing last year, creating over 500.000 jobs. In return, China only invested 3 billion, yeilding only 15.000 jobs. 

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"Investments are welcome in France and we are ready to receive them", the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday 26 March, during a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

France hopes to rebalance its commercial exchanges with China where it is currently at a disadvantage. Paris invests four times more in Beijing than the opposite, which bumped its trade deficit last year to 25.8 billion euros.

On Wednesday, the French and Chinese Presidents will discuss potential trade deals in sectors such as aviation, nuclear power and agriculture, with lucrative signings up for grabs. But whilst it is relatively easy for it to sell nuclear plants or planes to China, it struggles to sell day-to-day products.

France is Beijing's 19th biggest investor, whilst the latter is its second main investor.

"There is a breakthrough in certain kinds of [French] products like luxury goods, wine, agricultural products. But on the whole, if we compare France with Germany or with England, we do see that France is having difficulties selling products on the Chinese market," Jean François Huchet, economist at Inalco, told RFI.

A disadvantage that the Chinese President said he wanted to change. "My visit will allow us to reach an equal footing so that our bilateral relations, can go from strength to strength, he said."

Chinese car marker Dongfeng recently invested 800 M euros to buy 14% of shares in France's struggling Peugeot. Wednesday's meeting at The Elysée Palace will give the deal a stamp of approval.

But economist, Jean François Huchet said it was unlikely that the president's visit would solve the trade imbalance immediately, but that it could bring France a step closer in penetrating the Chinese market.

 

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